If you’re reading this I’m going to assume you’re interested in finding out more about STREAT and why Kate and I built it. Thanks for your interest.
When we started STREAT in late 2008, we weren’t dreaming of unicorns, group hugs and singing Kumbaya. To be honest we were really pissed off. We couldn’t imagine what it must be like for a young person to be starting life knowing that the disadvantage, unemployment and poverty that their parent’s suffered was also to become their fate. We also believed it was immoral to have young people in our communities have an absence of both home and hope.
We didn’t see these young people as ‘too expensive’ or ‘too hard’ to help, but rather untapped and precious resources for their community. So we started building an approach that was nuanced, integrated and holistic, ensuring that each young person’s circumstances and dreams were understood.
Kate (a Clinical Psych) and myself (a scientist turned social entrepreneur) gathered an amazing bunch of people and we all got to work. We’ve been busy. Since we pushed our first little food cart out onto Federation Square in 2010, we’ve built a business portfolio of eight businesses, across which we’ve served nearly 2 million customers, and provided over 60,000 hours of training to over 900 young people. And although we’ve provided our youth with a whole bunch of supports – like assistance finding stable housing, like vocational skills, like improved mental health and wellbeing – they consistently tell us the most important thing we’ve provided is a sense of belonging.
I really hope you get inspired to become part of our journey!
With my thanks and gratitude.
(PS - Bon appétit!)
A few random talks on stuff that’s important to me
- Scaling your social enterprise – a small four-part series talking with The Difference Incubator about how we’ve scaled STREAT, and how we’re planning and dreaming further scaling.
- TEDXCanberra Talk – Sustainable coffee, Sustainable lives, Sustainable dollars. Read the speech transcript.
- Bendigo Bank National Conference 2016 – a video talk on the small homeless boy who became the catalyst for STREAT, and also a snapshot of our model.
- The Age – Cafes with a Cause.
Connect with me
A bit of extra background
The growing field of social enterprise appears a long way from where I started my career in science. But then I guess you didn’t know I flipped a coin to decide if I’d become a scientist or artist when I finished school. Science won. But I quickly realised I was better at talking about science than actually doing it and ended up touring Australia as The Slime Queen with a travelling science circus. Following this I spent a decade at the CSIRO, Australia’s premier science research organisation, as a Science Communicator where I worked for a decade in roles including National Coordinator of CSIRO’s Double Helix Club, Manager of Internal Communications and Acting Director of Communications.
And whilst I continued to take career hook-turns from slime to science management to building arts and film festivals to international development and then to social enterprise, the common theme is how alive I’ve always felt at the interface between disciplines. My world has never been filled with binary choices, but rather a colourful spectrum of possibilities. (It appears that even my sexuality and gender won’t conform to binary choices.)
I particularly love building cross-disciplinary teams, projects and organisations to try and solve seemingly intractable problems. And when I’ve decided that something needs to be done, I usually don’t give up easily whilst trying to achieve it. (Last year I put a sign beside my desk that says, ‘Please be aware that when you say ‘No, that’s not possible’, I hear you say ‘Yes, let’s get creative!’).
I would have made a really crap scientist. I’m not very good at working alone or being in my own head. I particularly like working with others who have four key traits: Dream big, Are creative, Get shit done, and Have fun (I really hate overly-earnest stuff). Below is a pic from my diary that seems to best represent it (please excuse my messy handwriting!)
When I’m not building STREAT you can find me in the garden with Kate (my soul mate of over 20 years and partner of over 10), or on the floor building Lego creations with our beautiful son Will. Alternatively I’ll be in my overalls in the studio making art or making weird creations out of the most recent stuff I’ve found discarded on the streets in my neighbourhood.
Thanks again for your interest in STREAT and I hope we get to share a meal or coffee one day!